Australians' confidence in the nation's economy shrinks

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Image caption Consumers in Australia are worried about their cost of living, with food bills high on the list of concerns

A quarterly survey has found that more than one third of Australians rate the country's economy as "poor", up from 25% in September.

Choice said it found that 32% of consumers surveyed thought the economy was "either fairly or very poor".

It also found that consumers were most anxious about their electricity bills.

Following concern about the cost of electricity, the survey showed that the cost of food and groceries was next on their list of concerns at 78%.

"This no doubt reflects the gloomy economic news of recent weeks, with the release of weaker than expected growth figures and discussion of an 'income recession'," said the chief executive of Choice, Alan Kirkland.

Worries about university fees climbed from 31% in September to 38% in December, with the survey finding that 87% of students were worried about those costs.

One of the biggest concerns though for Australians was government spending cuts, the survey showed.

"What's concerning about these figures is they come on the back of declining business confidence and declining consumer confidence figures," Mr Kirkland told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation.

One brighter note showed that fewer Australians said their overall bills were increasing, with 83% citing this concern compared to 87% in the previous quarter.

The survey from consumer group Choice uses information gathered from 1,037 consumers aged between 18 and 75 years.

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